Ruth Stout, who passed on in 2006 at a grand old age, left behind a rich legacy for gardeners. Ruths study highlighted aspects found in the world of nature, like the presence of a layer of mulch, as well as leaving the ground unbroken (in effect, letting the inhabitants of the soil do the turning – earthworms, microbes, and such). Through her observation of various natural settings, followed by strategic implementation of these features, gardening was shown to become more productive, while reducing the work load.
Application of organic plant waste material directly onto the soil to a depth of an inch or more generates the following results:
– The bottom layer of mulch will gradually rot into the soil, providing a constant supply of nutrients, while eliminating the need for maintaining a compost pile.
– Moisture retention due to the mulch layer means reduced need for watering – saving on both resources and labor.
– Mulch effectively prevents weeds from growing, thus reducing another laborious chore.
– Because of greater nutrient levels, plants can be positioned twice as densely as normally recommended.
– Even so, those plants will actually produce more than non-mulched plants. In real terms the combination of denser spacing and higher production means a fourfold increase overall.
In addition, leaving the soil unbroken saves the laborious task of turning the soil, while the soils compactness allows the wicking action of moisture and nutrients to flow.
I have had the pleasure of proving these results in my own garden, as have countless other practitioners of mulch gardening.
Gardeners and farmers are advised to study the finer points of the system before implementation.
See the links below, which expand on this system of applying nature-wisdom for increased productivity while saving on resources and labor.
The foregoing article was written by Josef Graf, coordinator of the Earth Vision project and Insight21 – presenting nature in the light of spiritual ecology, and answers for the 21st Century.